A BASKETBALL PROGRAM IN TURMOIL
Last week was the longest and darkest in the history of University of Minnesota basketball. On Friday three Gopher players were arrested on sexual assault charges. A day later, longtime coach Jim Dutcher resigned, university president Kenneth Keller promised an investigation into the school's basketball program, and Minnesota forfeited its Sunday game against Northwestern.
The sequence of events began on Friday morning, soon after the Minnesota team checked out of the Madison (Wis.) hotel in which it had stayed following a Thursday night game against Wisconsin. In searching for a billfold reported left behind by a caller identifying himself as Gopher forward Mitch Lee, a hotel employee checked the room Lee had occupied. Inside she found an 18-year-old student from Madison Area Technical College. She was, according to Madison police sergeant Sylvester Combs, "wrapped up in sheets...pretty wiped out."
The woman told police she had been repeatedly raped for 2½ hours by three men. She was quickly taken to Dane County Regional Airport, where the Minnesota team had already been asked to deplane from its commercial flight. "The police took them out and had them walk in front of a car," said Combs. "The girl was in the car." From this makeshift lineup, she identified Lee, 20, a sophomore, and junior forward Kevin Smith, 21, as her assailants. A third player, sophomore forward George Williams, 19, later was implicated. At their arraignment on Monday, Lee and Smith were charged with first-degree sexual assault, and all three were charged with second-degree sexual assault. They pleaded not guilty.
While the players sat in Dane County Jail, their school's basketball program was reeling. On Saturday, Keller said that because of the seriousness of the charges he was considering canceling the 11 games remaining on this season's schedule. He was obviously upset. Implying guilt before the players were even arraigned, he said, "It's hard for me to imagine a set of circumstances" under which the three would ever suit up for Minnesota again. On Monday, Keller announced that Minnesota would play out the remainder of its season under assistant coach Jimmy Williams, but that a task force was being established to investigate the basketball program.
Dutcher, whose record was 190-112 in 11 seasons at Minnesota, was unhappy about the decision to forfeit the Northwestern game and resigned, saying the program "needed new direction." Indeed, there had recently been other unsavory incidents involving Gopher basketball players. Lee was acquitted on Jan. 14 on another sexual assault charge, and last year guard Todd Alexander was charged with two misdemeanors: using a stolen bank card and the theft of a stereo. He made restitution as part of a first-offender program.
Dutcher's supporters say the coach is a mild-mannered man who didn't make unfair demands of his players. But others say that his teams lacked discipline. Last Saturday Dutcher conceded that he might have done well to "cut some guys loose earlier.... I may have been guilty of being loyal too long. When you're dealing with young people, you're always just one day away from disaster, from an incident."
Minnesota is no longer one day away.
FLO HYMAN, 1954-1986
The death of former U.S. Olympic volleyball star Flo Hyman during a game last Friday in Japan stunned and saddened all who knew her. The 31-year-old Hyman, long considered the world's best female volleyball player, was thought to be in perfect health before suffering cardiac arrest at a match in Matsue, on the Japanese west coast.
The 6'5" Hyman was a ferocious and passionate player. She was best known for her sharply hooking serves and powerful spikes. "The audience would hold its breath when she rose for a spike," recalls Joan Ackermann-Blount, who spent several weeks with the volleyball team for a 1984 SI feature. China needed a wall of three players to stop Hyman when it defeated the U.S. in the gold medal game at last summer's L.A. Olympics.
Off the court, Hyman was, in Ackermann-Blount's words, "a really sweet, gentle, kind, even withdrawn person." Hyman was most expansive when describing her sport. "When it all works well it feels like heaven," she once said. "You feel like you're playing a song." For nine years, Hyman sacrificed any semblance of a normal life to live and train with her volleyball teammates in preparation for a possible gold medal in L.A. Despite the Olympic loss to China, Hyman said she was "damned proud" of her team's silver medal, the first medal ever for a U.S. women's volleyball team.
Her teammates knew Hyman as the strongest among them, their leader, their hardest worker. That is how they will remember their gentle friend.
A RACE WITH ALL THE INGREDIENTS
The cuisine was haute and the skiing was hot at the Eastern regional championships of the 1986 Chefs Ski Race held two weeks ago at New York's Hunter Mountain. Nearly 250 butchers, bakers and chocolate-mousse makers outfitted themselves with the requisite gear—skis, poles, apron and toque blanche—and, swapping the kitchen range for the mountain range, flung themselves across snow that had settled on the landscape like a fine lemon soufflé. Greg Taylor, the owner of Friends Lake Inn in Chester-town, N.Y., was tops among the men, and Frosty Goffredi of Claude's in Virginia Beach, Va. was the women's winner. In April they will lead the 20-member Eastern team to Taos, N. Mex. for the national championship, won last year by the Rocky Mountain team. "We Easterners were certainly more seasoned," claims Jacky Ruette, founder of the race and owner of both Prunelle and La Petite Marmite in New York City, "but perhaps not hungry enough. This year we're determined to show that we're the fastest chefs in America." In other words, they're ready to start cooking.
A week ago we described how that well-known sports mascot, the Chicken, had faked his Florida Citrus Bowl parade appearance in Orlando in December by using a stand-in. Now comes another story of mistaken identity at the Citrus Bowl, this one involving a certain Dennis Anderson of Merritt Island, Fla. The confusion started when Anderson, who bears a strong resemblance to major-leaguer-turned-TV-baseball-commentator-and-Miller-Lite-star Bob Uecker, took his seat behind the end zone. "Hey, hey, front roooowwwww," he chuckled.
Anderson soon found himself besieged by Uecker fans. NBC panned to him. Anderson said later that he kept claiming he really wasn't Uecker, but when no one believed him he decided to play along.
Anderson signed some funny-looking autographs—"I didn't know how to spell 'Uecker' "—was serenaded by four tuba players from the Ohio State band and even helped the Chicken start a crowd wave. The next day's Orlando Sentinel ran a photo of "ex-baseball player Bob Uecker" and quoted him.
Only when one of Anderson's brothers squealed on him in mid-January did the paper discover that its Uecker was in fact the non-celebrity owner of a local termite-control firm. Anderson says he had hoped the whole incident would be forgotten following Ohio State's 10-7 Citrus win over Brigham Young.
Well, at least we think it was Brigham Young....
AND WHILE ROME BURNS...
Having used its might to rid college sports of such evils as charity calendars, the NCAA is now cracking down on plain old good luck. Consider the case of Midland, Texas high school senior Jake Young, who made a football recruiting visit two weekends ago to Texas Tech. While on campus. Young attended the Tech-Texas A & M basketball game. At halftime—presumably by chance—his program number was one of two drawn for a basketball shooting contest sponsored by a local bank.
With 8,174 fans watching. Young swished a half-court shot to win the contest. He expected to receive the promised prize, a week's interest on $1 million—$1,538.46. to be exact. But the NCAA won't let him collect, citing its rule against improper inducements.
"The money didn't come from Tech, it came from the bank," says Young. "I figure, since I bought the program with my own money, I should be able to keep it."
Sorry, kid. The NCAA has a job to do.
THEY WERE RELAY SURPRISED
At first. Seton Hall's 4 X 200-meter relay team didn't think much of its 1:26.76 clocking at an indoor track meet at Harvard last week. Only when Pirate coach John Moon mentioned the results to Eastern Track magazine publisher Walt Murphy the next day did he discover that Harvard's track is still in yards, not meters. That meant that his team had actually run a 4 x 220-yard relay—about 15 feet farther—and set a new collegiate indoor best by. 14 second.
IN THE 39TH MONTH, THEY RESTED
Once the NFL Pro Bowl is played in Honolulu this Sunday, there will be no more live pro football on television or anywhere else for four months. Incredibly, because of the USFL's three-year experiment with a winter-spring schedule—scrapped this year in favor of fall games—there hasn't been even a 30-day hiatus from pro football since the eight-week NFL players strike in 1982. Take a well-earned break, football fans.
THEY SAID IT
•Mike Bossy, New York Islanders wing, when told that his hair was turning gray: "That's a pigment of your imagination."
•Pete Gillen. Xavier University basketball coach, before a game with rival Cincinnati: "We're not eating, we're not sleeping. We're like Gandhi."
•Jack Chevalier, Wilmington (Del.) News Journal sports editor, speculating that the Eagles might draft Navy running back Napoleon McCallum: "They usually take a Nap on draft day."